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No valets, no problem for this parking app merger

Parking app SpotHero has acquired rival Parking Panda, the companies said on Thursday.

Winning model: On-demand parking apps that dispatch valets to pick up and drop off a customer's car became all the rage a few years ago, but Chicago-based SpotHero took another approach: Letting its customers find and book a parking spot ahead of time and park on their own, avoiding the high costs of employing valets.

The perils of managing and paying for labor is a lesson most of the on-demand valet startups have learned the hard way. Several have since shut down or moved away from selling to consumers, while Luxe, the last of the original valet apps, recently stopped operations in some cities and added less labor-intensive options, including self-serve parking.

The deal: The acquisition means that SpotHero will instantly expand to 20 new cities, including some in Canada, where it previously didn't operate. ParkingPanda also has deals with sporting and event venues, as well as some municipalities like Sacramento. There are no plans for layoffs, and it was an all-stock deal, SpotHero CEO Mark Lawrence told Axios.